Judge told lawyers to “keep the volume down” after Alina Habba “practically yelled” at him: reporter

Judge Arthur Engoron, the judge presiding over Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York, had to instruct attorneys to lower their voices after an outburst from Alina Habba, an attorney for the former president.

Habba became incensed about a number of perceived issues with the judge, including the fact that he is holding a bench trial rather than a jury trial. Engoron explained that he was holding a bench trial because “nobody asked for” a jury trial on Trump’s legal team. 

Habba also accused the judge of improperly valuing Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort at $18 million, even though Engoron in a summary judgement finding that Trump and his companies had persistently committed fraud cited a Palm Beach County official’s assessment that the property was worth between $18 million and $27 million between 2011 and 2021.

Engoron rejected Habba’s characterization.

“He said, ‘hang on. I never said that.’ And he didn’t say it. His ruling that came down last week said that there have been valuations for property appraisal that put it at that” price, New York Times reporter Suzanne Craig, who was in the courtroom, recounted on MSNBC. “It doesn’t mean it’s worth that. And I just found that that really struck me because that’s what Donald Trump and some of his lieutenants do. They say a lie and they repeat it over and over and over. And Eric Trump, the other night, was out tweeting about that valuation saying the same thing. And so the judge — there was a very heated back and forth and vocal back and forth between the two of them at the end of her remarks. And her audience was an audience of one. It was Donald Trump.”

Engoron, who reportedly waited until Habba had concluded her rant to speak, then requested that the attorneys lower the volume. 

“She gets up and was very animated, was practically yelling to the point where, after she was done, the judge said to the next lawyer that came up to keep the volume down because it was so loud,” Craig continued.

“And she was saying that Letitia James, she had run simply ‘to get Trump’ and this was just all about this vendetta that Letitia James has,” she added. “And then she started in on repeating some of the claims that they’ve already gotten into trouble for.”

Catherine Christian, a former assistant Manhattan district attorney, told MSNBC that the Habba’s performance in the courtroom amounted to a “press statement” rather than a legal defense and warned that there could be consequences for repeating false claims in court.

“In court, there is a professional responsibility, [you can’t] make arguments that you knowingly know are not based in law and facts,” she explained. “You just can’t make that. You can make arguments, you know, all of us who have tried cases could step on that line. But if you know for a fact that it’s not based on law and facts, you’re not supposed to make that. So, she might be dealing with issues after this trial. So, hopefully, she is getting paid well.”

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